Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Desmond Goss

Second Advisor

Deirdre Oakley

Third Advisor

Mathew Gayman


This work explores the concern towards a perceived sex trafficking problem in metro Atlanta and this perception’s relationship with local media coverage of commercial sex labor (CSL). Using Erotic Capital and Feminist Criminalization theories, I critically analyzed the discursive landscape of CSL in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution (AJC). Then, considering the media’s power in shaping public opinion and relying on the strengths of qualitative methodologies (Patton 2002), I evaluated this landscape for moral panic evidence. I found that authors: 1) primarily used disparaging descriptions of voluntary CSL; 2) conflated voluntary CSL with sex trafficking; and 3) distorted the reality of Full-Service Sex Work (FSSW). Taken together, the findings reveal the negative media framing of CSL, which contributes to it’s contemporary resurgence as a popular moral enterprise. Moreover, this centuries-old moral panic as a case study informs us of the idiosyncrasies that color moral enterprise and lead to panic.


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